Friday, December 31, 2010

Reprise: Making the difficult decisions

I am using Fridays to re-run posts that originally published on the now-defunct DCMetroMoms before they disappear from the internets forever (scheduled to happen sometime early next year). This post originally ran on June 4, 2010. And Happy New Year!!

Hi, my name is Robin. I have a five-person family and it's been 24 days since we washed any laundry at our house.

That's not a good beginning, is it? A few weeks ago our washing machine appeared to be messing with us. It's a front loader with a dryer stacked on top of it, and we need that configuration because that's what will fit in our laundry/cleaning supplies closet. So our cantankerous washer, it wasn't spinning the water out of the laundry. Then it would begin a load and stop midway through, leaving the clothing sitting in warm, soapy water. I could neither convince it to finish the load nor rescue the clothes to finish by hand without releasing a tidal wave onto our kitchen floor. Finally, it wouldn't begin a load at all. We thought it was a broken locking mechanism. We propped it shut all classy with a kitchen chair weighted down with my heaviest cookbooks. That worked for exactly two loads. Then it wouldn't operate at all.

In moments of crisis like this, there are only two kinds of people: Handy and Not Handy. Both my lovely husband and I fall solidly in the latter category. We did the only thing we could do: we called the repairman. He helpfully let us know that we're just past the warranty expiration, and that we've somehow magically fried the washer's motherboard. It has shorted out and will not recognize the door lock when it engages, thereby refusing to fill the machine with water. It will cost about $500 to repair.

The whole machine only cost $550 three-and-a-half years ago.

Oh! And the part is backordered for two weeks!

We look into buying a new machine. Replacing it with the exact same model will take several weeks, because it's not the current model and is therefore a special order. Replacing it with the newer model will take only a few days. The newer model is a few inches less deep, meaning it will fit even better in our closet than the just-barely measurement we're pretending is sufficient right now. And the salesman swears that the stacking kit will still let it hold our current dryer.

But the new model is over $700. But it can be here in just a few days, and then we'll have a brand-new machine. We sigh. We place the order.

It arrives and: surprise! The dryer won't stack on it. We send it back. We place a special order for the machine we already have. We buy the extended warranty. We grumble, and strategize our wardrobes for another 11 days of waiting.

So here come the difficult decisions: just how many times can jeans be worn between washings? (Not nearly enough, especially in this humidity.)

If the two-year-old wore that outfit yesterday but didn't spill on it, and wanted to sleep in it, and now really wants to wear it to school today because it's purple and she suddenly loves purple, do you let her wear it for the second day in a row? (Why yes, yes you do.)

If the four-year-old is of a mind to sleep nude, do you object? (No! Less laundry!)

We held a barbecue at our house over Memorial Day weekend and I relayed this saga to a friend while we stood in my kitchen. She immediately grabbed her husband, he of the magical Handy variety, and repeated the story to him. He disappeared somewhere, and returned to announce we can buy the motherboard ourselves for $179. Then he made an offer: he'll install it for us this weekend in exchange for his favorite baked goods.

We ordered a motherboard and canceled the second washer order. I added flour and sugar to the end-of-the-week shopping list and by the end of this weekend we should be back in business. It's been 24 days and I did only one emergency load of unders, bras and the lovely husband's dress socks in a friend's machine. Not bad, all things considered.

But I look forward to next week, after we get all caught up (ha!), when I can go back to my toughest laundry decision being:

should I run a load tonight or can it wait until tomorrow?

(image source: Johnnie Utah)

Robin blogs at The Not-Ever-Still Life, where she will never brag about her electronics skills but will occasionally acknowledge her culinary talents. She wonders if you would like to power wash her deck in exchange for homemade cheesecake. You can contact her on her blog or on Twitter @noteverstill to barter. This is an original DC Metro Moms post. Pin It


It's the last day of the year. One child was already awake for an hour, went back to sleep, and now is awake again. One child has been awake for two hours and one child has been awake for three hours and they just returned to bed. It isn't yet sun up.
The backyard sky, as seen from the warmth of the dining room.

It's the last day of the year and I'm awake with one child and he plays on the floor and I sing to him and he claps the linoleum like a drum. I'm brewing tea, a loose earl gray creme, and one of the purple pieces falls to the floor. He pauses, expertly pincer grabs it, tastes. I don't know what the purple is in my tea, but he considers it, spits it out. Now he's tasted tea for the first time. It'll be a year of tasting new things for him. He has five teeth and a pincer grasp and what else could one need for 2011? The world is his buffet.

He wasn't here yet, a year ago, but now he is, and a little caffeinated before the dawn. He's ready for the last day of this drying up year, and anything that might follow.

And what will come in 2011? The lovely husband and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. E will begin kindergarten, which is perhaps the biggest change ever yet to come in her life; and she'll be at school away from her brother and her sister and me, which is perhaps the biggest change in the shape of my daily mothering. I'll have a baby away from me. L will learn to be the big girl on campus, and G will walk soon, and just think what he'll be like when he's caffeinated and ambulatory.

It's the morning of the last day of the expiring year. A day's light is coming and then the world will turn around again and something new is waiting for us all on the other side.

Happy New Year, friends. A strongly-brewed toast in your honor.
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